Welcome To Our Web Site

Please be patient as we make adjustments to our web site.  We’re not finished yet.  (It’s kind of like each of us in the hands of our God; God’s not finished with us yet, either!)

Second Baptist Church of Germantown is an exciting and intimate place to worship and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.  We’ve experienced a doubling of our membership and attendance in the last decade, enhanced our capacity to minister to children, youth and seniors, and we are a wonderful example of a multi-cultural church,  “an integrated church in an integrated community.”  Join us for worship every Sunday at 10:45 a.m.

THIS WEEK AT SECOND BAPTIST, December 6-12

Second Baptist will be hosting NPIHN from December 5 through  January 2.  To help out, here is a link to the chart that will show where the areas of need are for our hosting.  https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=0Aoz-Ej9CKt5XdHU2SXBUS3ZaU2hFOFp3T3hxMVRMMkE&hl=en&single=true&gid=15&output=html

Tuesday Bible Study-11:30 a.m. (Bring your own lunch)

Wednesday Bible Study-7:00 p.m.

Wednesday Good News Club for children and youth-7:00

Friday

Jr. Choir Rehearsal 5:15 p.m.

Bells 6:15 p.m.

JAM (Jesus and Me) 7:30 p.m.

Saturday

Board of Missions Meeting 9 a.m.

Board of Christian Education Meeting 9:30 a.m.

Praise Dance 9:30 a.m.

Gospel Choir 10 a.m.

Children’s Choir 10 a.m.

Sunday Bells 11 a.m.

Saturday, December 11 you are cordially invited to The Second Baptist Church Carol Sing and Greening of the Sanctuary from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.  Carol Singing with Nathan Irwin-Diehl.  Seasonal Refreshment in Hargroves Hall.

THIS SUNDAY 12/12/2010

Sunday School 9:30 a.m.

The third Sunday of Advent, I’ll be preaching from Luke 1:39-45.  Part Two of our Annual Church Meeting will be held immediately following the worship service.

Jr. Choir Rehearsal during Annual Meeting




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Welcome to our Web Site!

Please be patient as we make adjustments to our web site.  We’re not finished yet.  (It’s kind of like each of us in the hands of our God; God’s not finished with us yet, either!)

Second Baptist Church of Germantown is an exciting and intimate place to worship and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.  We’ve experienced a doubling of our membership and attendance in the last decade, enhanced our capacity to minister to children, youth and seniors, and we are a wonderful example of a multi-cultural church,  “an integrated church in an integrated community.”  Join us for worship every Sunday at 10:45 a.m.

THIS SUNDAY 9/19/2010

We will be celebrating our church’s missionary heritage to Burma.  Pastor Khup Khen Pau of the Cope Memorial Baptist Church will be with us to commemorate the 100th anniversary of our missionary, J. Herbert Cope’s arrival in the Chin Hills of Burma.  Emily Hargroves Alexander and Jeanette Hargroves Taylor, our former pastor’s daughters, will be speaking at a luncheon after worship in Hargroves Hall.  They visited Tiddim, Burma last year and took our gifts and greetings to the church there.  Join us to get a glimpse at how much God can do through all of us when we accept the challenge to trust God.

Schedule of worship and bible studies

Sunday School-9:30 a.m.

Sunday Worship-10:45 a.m.

Tuesday Bible Study-11:30 a.m. (Bring your own lunch)

Wednesday Bible Study-7:00 p.m. (Beginning September 15)

Wednesday Good News Club for children and youth-7:00 (Beginning September 15)




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Making Up Is Hard To Do

Luke 15:11-24 v. 20 so he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him, and kissed him.

One of the easiest things to do in life is to fall in love. Anybody can fall in love. Most of us know how to do that. Just check out that nice pair of jeans, those huge biceps, see his nice car, watch her bat one eyelash at you, and boom, it’s all over. We’re in love. The degree of difficulty in falling in love is not that high at all. Even if we’re not talking about romantic relationships, I can recall the first time I saw my children when they were born, heck when I first heard that MyWife was pregnant, that’s all it took. I was in love. I was bouncing off the walls both times. Starting a relationship isn’t all that difficult at all. Even friendships aren’t that difficult to start. I went to the school yard as a little boy and picked up a basketball and started playing. Some kid heard the ball bouncing and came over and joined me, and we’ve been friends every since. I came to Second Baptist to preach my first sermon, met some young whipper snapper deacon named Bert Board, and boom, we’ve been friends ever since. Starting a relationship isn’t hard to do at all. But the hard part of life is when those relationships go sour, when the ones we love the most are the ones who hurt us the most, when we spear each other with verbal weapons of mass destruction, when the relationship is broken and it looks like years of friendship, years of a marriage, even sometimes our relationship with our children or our family members become estranged and broken, that’s when we learn that making up is hard to do.

I know the old school song says that “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” but the truth is breaking up is pretty easy to do. I was looking at this parable of the Prodigal Son, and began to see how easy it was for him to wreck his relationship with his father, and how easy it is for us to wreck our relationships with each other, our marriages, families, friendships, churches, anything. All it takes is a little disrespect, selfishness and stupidity. Any combination of the three will suffice. And those things are easy to do. The prodigal son came to his father in verse 12 and said, “Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” No, “please,” no, “yes sir,” no “if it’s possible?” No, “Thank you.” The son didn’t even ask, he came in and demanded, “Give me.” Disrespect. No acknowledgement of the many years of hard work his father had put in to accumulate his wealth, and didn’t even realize whose money it was, “Give me MY share.” Selfishness. Dad works all his life and sonny boy says, “Give me MY share.” Dad works graveyard, and sonny boy says, “MY share.” I don’t know about you, but if that got done in my parents’ house, if I had come in and demanded this or demanded that, I can tell you right now, it wouldn’t have been pretty, “Orale, burro, estas loco! Quiate la boca. A fuera, ahora.” Selfishness. Then the son takes the money and goes off and spends it, not on a college education so he can prepare for life and learn how to make it in the world, not on a solid investment that will reap rewards for years to come, not on a house, nothing in an IRA account. Boyfriend goes off to a different country, and squandered it on riotous living, partying, boozing, drugs, bling, restaurants, hotels, stuff that once you spend it, it’s gone. Stupidity!

Oh, I don’t care what the song says, truth is that breaking up is easy to do. Just disrespect your spouse male or female, just get selfish and start focusing only on my thing, and my needs and my stuff, and my desires, instead of what’s best for the family, what’s best for the marriage, what’s best for the church. Do something stupid and sleep with someone who isn’t your spouse, spend money on drugs and booze and other idiotic things. Throw a temper tantrum at a church meeting. Stupidity. You want to ruin a relationship, you want to break someone’s heart, you want to find yourself alone and hurting and wondering what in the world went wrong? Disrespect, selfishness and stupidity; that’s the way to go.

But what I like about this famous story that Jesus told is that it provides a blue print not only for how to ruin a relationship but also the recipe for reconciling a relationship. And it’s in looking at how this wayward, prodigal son came back into a relationship with his father that we can pick up some tips on how to patch up our own broken relationships, our own hurting families, our own busted up marriages. Only thing is, that when we look at what happened to patch this family back together again, we’ll understand that making up is hard to do. It’s not easy. It’s not for the faint of heart. Again, breaking up is the easy thing to do; it’s making up that’s the hard thing to do, the mature thing to do, and in the long run it is also the most rewarding thing to do. But anything that rewarding is going to take some sacrifices, some hard work, some swallowing of pride, some definite discomfort. And most people these days, they don’t want to do the hard work of making a relationship functional, of making a marriage healthy, of making a church stay together and grow. We’d rather take the easy road out and quit, quit on our marriages, quit on our friendships, quit on our jobs. We’ll just pack up and move to the next church instead of staying in the place of tension with other believers so that we can learn how to grow up, learn how to live in a world where not everyone agrees with you, learn how to live with folks whose backgrounds and cultures and perspectives on things may be different than yours. We’d rather just take the easy way out, the path of least resistance, and it’s breaking up that’s easy to do. Making up, beloved, making up is hard to do. Going to counseling, listening to someone else’ perspective on our actions, making changes to our lives and our lifestyles, changing how we treat each other, changing our bad habits, going against our selfishness and our machismo and our desire to have things done our way. That’s hard work. Making up is hard to do.

Let’s look at this estranged son in the story and see what happened, see what lessons we can learn that helped him patch things up with his father and can help us patch up our relationships. First thing I noticed is that he didn’t come to himself until after he’d gotten away from people giving him bad advice. Verse 15 says, “So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs.” It wasn’t until his riotous living friends were out of earshot, when he was out in the fields, when it says in verse 16, “no one gave him anything,” when he was all alone with just his thoughts and those of the pigs he was feeding. Why didn’t he come to himself before then? Why not when he was with his so-called friends when he noticed his funds were drying up? Didn’t any of them tell him that he was beign selfish, that he was being disrespectful, that he was being stupid? Of course not! They had selfish motives going on themselves. They were just enjoying the ride, wasn’t costing them a thing, it was his life he was ruining. “He want to ruin it, let him! Yeah, go ahead, buy that sports car. You deserve it. Yeah, spend that money throwing another party. Spend it at the club; go ahead!”

And what I’m getting out of this is that sometimes, we have to get away from all the noise of so-called friends and just give ourselves a chance to think. To think rationally. Because not all the advice of friends is worth listening to. Some folks are offering bad advice. Married folks relying on the advice of their single friends who go to clubs, who are trying to pick up women, who cheat on their spouses, who are working on wife number 3 already and don’t seem to have learned anything from being married to wives #1 and 2. Folks who tell you, “girl you need to get out and have your fun.” Or, “Brother, don’t be hen-pecked, don’t let her run your life. You’re a man. BE a man.” Bad advice.

Ask yourself sometime, this person advising me about my marriage, are they married? Are they happy? Have they wrecked their lives doing these exact same things they’re advising me to do? Do I really want to be like them? Cuz, they ain’t happy, they ain’t married, they ain’t got a good relationship with their parents, they ain’t got anything I want! Bad advice. Stop listening to bad advice.

Some folks are taking advice about work and jobs from folks whose priorities aren’t your priorities, who think making money is above making it to your children’s ball game, who think moving up the ladder is more important than having a loving marriage, who think impressing the boss is more important than impressing your spouse. And if someone can’t understand how important your Christian faith is to you, how important it is to go to church on Sundays and get filled with encouragement and filled with wisdom and filled with the goodness of the Lord, if they don’t care how you believe God answers prayers, that the bible is God’s word, that Jesus will make a way for you out of no way, if they ain’t down with Jesus and they’re not down with YOU being down with Jesus, there’s a very good chance that you’re getting some bad advice! If their advice can’t be found in the scriptures, if they don’t care what Jesus had to say about it, if they can’t pray with you about the miracle of reconciliation, there’s a very good chance you’re getting bad advice. And the first thing we see that aided this prodigal son in mending the broken relationship with his estranged father, and it wasn’t easy because they’ll ridicule you, you’ll have to stand up to folks and tell them, thanks but no thanks, but he stopped listening to bad advice. Making up is hard to do.

Let me move on. Over in verse 17 when he came to himself, he said, “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger!” Second hard thing we see in how the son made up with his father was that he realized what he once had. Too many of us don’t realize how blessed we are. I said, we don’t realize how blessed we already are, how good we already have it, how good God has already been. We keep chasing waterfalls instead of sticking with the rivers in our own back yard. We think the grass is always greener on the other side. And sometimes, sadly, but sometimes, tragically, but sometimes, we have to lose what we had before we ever truly appreciate it. Sometimes we don’t know what we got until it’s gone. We don’t realize how much we loved someone sometimes until they’re gone and won’t come back or can’t come back. And it’s hard for us to admit sometimes that we had it better, that we were truly blessed, because we want our own decisions made during a temper tantrum, our own wisdom demonstrated in the stress of a shouting match, because of our stubbornness. And our stubbornness sometimes can cost us a chance to make up with our parents before they die. It can cost us a chance to live in a happy home with our spouse and our children, it can cost us our lives in a church family with people we love and people who love us because we refuse to admit, refuse to acknowledge, refuse to recognize all the blessings that God has already provided for us.

One of Tyler Perry’s movies mentioned the 80/20 rule, how folks often go after the 20% they think they don’t have and neglect the 80% they do have and wind up losing everything because they never realize how blessed they already are. Every now and then, I’ll hear young people wish they had the freedom that their friends have. Why can’t I stay out all night like my friends? Why can’t I hang on the street corner like everybody else? Sharice gets to do whatever she wants and nobody tells her nothing. But they don’t know those friends’ parents aren’t around, don’t care, don’t show up to concerts, don’t affirm them, don’t cheer them on, don’t pray for them, don’t take them to church, don’t care. “You don’t know how it is, Rev. Flores. My Mom and Dad always picking on me, always on my case, always checking up who I’m with, meeting my dates before we go out, setting curfews, grounding me for staying out too late, taking away TV privileges when I don’t get good grades.” Girlfriend or boyfriend, you don’t realize how blessed you are! One of our parents in the church told me about her daughter who is now 20-something, out of college, good job, on her own. And she told me that when her daughter was young in high school, she said things like, “Everybody else is doing it, why can’t I?” “I hate you!” “I wish I didn’t have a mother.” But a few years later when her daughter was in college, she came to her and said, “Mom, I’m so glad I had you for a mom. Some of my friends, they are all jacked up. Don’t know how to clean up after themselves, irresponsible, getting bad grades and blaming professors for it, get kicked out of school for getting arrested and blaming everybody else for it. I’m so glad you raised me like you did.” The prodigal son said, “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare!” He realized what he had.

Every now and then, someone sees how well our church is doing, more and more people, and they ask me if I’m going to leave this church for a big church, be on television. One person told me, “you know, these folks are snowing you, Rev, because at other Black churches the pastor makes more money, they give him a pastor’s Cadillac, and they will get your wife a fur coat. They probably think you don’t know you’re supposed to get that stuff.” But you know, I don’t even think about leaving this church for a fur coat and a Cadillac because there’s no guarantee that another church will fit me like this one, or that my wife will be happy, or that another church will appreciate a Mexican preacher who every now and then forgets he’s not Black. But I don’t even think about another church because I realize what I got, I realize what a special place this is, I realize that God’s doing something here that isn’t happening every place else! My wife is happy, my children are blessed, and I’m in love with this church. More money won’t be better than that. A Cadillac won’t be better than that. A fur coat won’t be better than that. Realize what you have, beloved. Realize how blessed you are with blessings that cannot be purchased by money, that cannot be made by the hands of human beings. Do the hard work of putting aside your pride and your ego and your ambition and realize how blessed you already are!

Making up is hard to do. He stopped listening to bad advice, he realized how blessed he already was. Third thing, he had to be willing to make a fool of himself in front of his father. Verse 18, “I will get up and go to my father and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me like one of your hired hands.” See, if there is going to be a reconciliation, if there is going to be some making up, if there is going to be a mending of a broken relationship, someone is going to have to humble themselves and take the first step and admit our sins. Someone has to do it. It requires great humility. It requires great honesty because truth is we’ve all got some blame in any broken relationship. And sometimes, in fact most times, it’s what keeps us from mending the brokenness, our unwillingness to get down on our knees and say, “I’m sorry.” To try to make up. Michael Jackson’s tear-jerker song, “She’s out of my life,” has a line it it about cursed pride, kept my love for her down deep inside, and it cuts like a knife, but she’s out of my life.” Oh, I tell you, there’s a whole lot of proud, arrogant, self-righteous lonely folks in the world. Whole lot of folks who never did anything wrong who somehow wound up as sad as can be. Whole lot of folks who did it their way but who died alone. My father in law and I had a rough start to our relationship, in part because I was marrying his only daughter and in part because I was just too good to be true. But it got very rough for us at the start, and Debbie and I went through a two year stretch where we weren’t talking to my father-in-law. But someone had to be humble enough, someone had to admit that the brokenness was not what God ordained for us, someone had to be big enough to initiate the reconciliation. And so, my father-in-law called me and said, “hey, next time you’re in town, I’d like to talk with you and Debbie.” And it was hard work, it wasn’t easy, but we were getting back together again, we were beginning the long process of healing our relationship so my wife could patch things up with her dad, so I could have a father in law, so we could see each other on holidays, during the summers, so he could call me during the ball game when I’m all alone down stairs at 11:30 at night and say, “Did you see that play?” It’s hard work. Making up is hard to do, but the rewards, the payoff, the joy of reconciliation, the hope for my children, the love for our family

Oh, one more thing that makes making up so hard to do. See, after you’ve stopped listening to bad advice, after you realized how blessed you really are, after you’ve humbled yourself and apologized, you also have to have a gracious and merciful father, someone who says, “come home, come home, ye who are weary come home.” You have to have a merciful father who isn’t interested in reviving the past wrongs but in building a beautiful future. Who Isn’t interested in humiliating you but in redeeming you. Isn’t interested in stigmatizing you, but in restoring you. Isn’t interested in lording it over you but in loving you, embracing you. Pharisees wanted God to be ungracious, unmerciful, unforgiving. They wanted a holy God but not a forgiving God.

Oh beloved, I know it sounds like all this is about our human relationships, about our marriages and our friendships and our churches. But remember that this scripture was all about people patching things up with God, about making up with God, about restoring our relationship with God. It’s about letting Jesus back in your heart, it’s about restoring the joy of your salvation, it’s about renewing a right spirit in you. And how many of us are listening to bad advice about God from people who don’t have a relationship with God for themselves? How many of us don’t realize just how much God has already done for you to prove his love for you? And 2,000 years ago, God took the initiative and sent his only begotten son for you and for me, for your sins and my sins. And all it takes is for us to humble ourselves

I was watching on youtube the testimony of Bishop Lester Love who when he was young he backslid, didn’t like churchfolk, didn’t like the music, didn’t like nothing about church. So he rebelled and left the church, got into all kinds of stuff., sex, drugs, rock and roll, the whole shebang. But he had a praying mother, who didn’t let go of her son in her prayers that he would one day be reconciled with God the father. Years later his mother told him to give the Lord a chance, come to church, and he did, he went to church and the Lord spoke to him through the sermon that day. He was moved to tears hearing about the mercy of God, the love of God, and he realized he needed to come home, come back to Christ, and when the time came, with tears streaming down his face, he went up and gave his life to Christ, joined the church. Well, afterward on the way home with his mother, she said, “so you’re okay with the music and the worship and all that now?” And he told his mother that the music and worship still wasn’t his thing, it didn’t speak to him, he didn’t feel it. So he turned on the radio, and listened to the first song they had on. And he told his mom, “now this one speaks exactly of how I feel about the Lord right now. This one I can feel. This one is me and the Lord right here. “I was a fool to ever leave your side. Me minus you is such a lonely ride, that breakup we had has made me lonesome and sad, I realize I love you and I want you back, hey, hey! Reunited and it feels so good, reunited cuz we understood, there’s one perfect fit and Jesus this one is it, we both are so excited cuz we’re reunited hey hey…”

Well, that’s all good and well, but isn’t there some gospel song that expresses the same thing? Andrae Crouch old song was expressing this same sentiment in song, having wandered away from the Lord, having lived a riotous life, having hurt and injured the lord, and he put it this way, “Take me back, take me back dear Lord. To the place where I first received you. Take me back, take me back dear Lord where I first believed.” Anybody here ever feel like you wish you could turn the clock back, like you wish you could take back all the stupid things we did out of anger, out of selfishness, out of pride. Humble yourself and come crying back to the Lord and say, “Take me back, take me back dear Lord.”

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Cut me some slack

Matthew 18:21-35 v.29 then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you…”

The absence of mercy has turned this world into a cold, cruel place to live. I’m looking a this text, this person in the parable of Jesus who experienced what it was like to beg for mercy, but who didn’t have any mercy to offer when someone asked him to cut them some slack. Turn on your television sets, read a newspaper, listen to a radio talk show, and what we’ll find is people who haven’t a clue what being merciful is all about. Folks without homes, living out in the street, and a country of wealth and prosperity as had previously never been seen just driving on by, ipod head phones in our ears, cell phone blue tooth talking to us, rap music blasting at jet take off decibel levels, oblivious to the needs of folks right in front of us, saying, “can you cut me some slack?” And no sense of urgency, no understanding of the exigent circumstances of poverty and homelessness and hunger and health care can be found. Those are lines in a political campaign, slogans on bumper stickers, but the severity, the dire nature of the crisis for folks is not properly understood neither by our leaders nor by those of us who are ourselves one paycheck away from being right there with them. The absence of mercy has turned this world into a cold, cruel place to live.

Folks with no health care finally got some measure of hope from the House of Representatives a week ago, but in the Senate it looks like folks there would rather talk about whose to blame, pointing fingers at folks across the aisle and in the street, saying things like, “it’s their own fault. If they don’t take care of themselves the way the rest of the country takes care of itself, it’s their own fault they don’t have money for their own health care.” And so children without medical insurance go on with diseases that are treatable. Folks who’ve labored for years in fields, keeping the economy afloat, but they don’t have the right papers so they can’t get the right medical attention, hospital workers sometimes working long hours in hospitals but when they get sick they can’t afford to be in a bed they’ve been making up for years because they don’t have that procedure included in their health plan. All of these folks crying out the same plea, “can you cut me some slack? I know it ain’t in my health plan, I know my job isn’t as lucrative as some, and I know I don’t have a college degree or whatever other pedigree might be required to obtain that kind of job, I know I don’t have the right papers you require, but I’m sick and I can’t get well. My child is sick and needs this surgery. Isn’t there anybody here who can cut a brother some slack? Isn’t there any body who can show a sister some mercy?” The absence of mercy has turned this world into a cold cruel place.

Back when I was in school, scholarship money was flowing pretty well, and then the country voted for a certain B movie star who made it a little tougher to get federal grants to pay for college, a man who cut back funding for state colleges who were giving opportunities for minorities and poor people to afford college. And it was hard for me then, and it’s even harder for folks now. Education costs rise every year, tuition, books, housing, food. It’s enough to discourage some folks from even trying to improve their lives, from even trying to elevate the status of their families by getting a college education and opening up doors for employment that won’t be opened without it. And when a nation with billions of dollars can’t have a little mercy so folks can go to college and make the nation even greater than it is, when we can’t properly fund public schools so that children don’t grow up with no hope of anything but drugs, violence and prison. The absence of mercy is why we spend more building prisons to incarcerate people than we would to educate children properly and keep them out of trouble in the first place. And society is looking up for some help, folks trapped in a system that is designed for them to fail, that has planned for them to become criminals, that has set money aside to ensure we can incarcerate instead of educate folks. And folks are trapped, they got no hope, no way out, and all they can do is ask, “can you cut me some slack?” Can you give me a pell grant? Can you fund my local elementary school so that I can learn? Can you provide me in my urban environment the same opportunities that the kids in the suburbs get? Can you cut me some slack? The absence of mercy has turned this world, turned this great nation, turned our great citizens into a cold, cruel place to live.

The man in our text was forgiven a huge debt, given a big break, got out of a huge mess because of the mercy of his landowner. And soon as he got out, soon as he made it big, soon as he moved on up to the east side apartment in the sky, when someone owed him not 1/15th of what he had owed, instead of mercy and forgiveness, it was cruelty and viciousness. I don’t know about you, but I know a few folks who made it out of some bad situations, who came out of the barrio or the hood, who went to college, law school, grad school, who got good jobs, who made a good life, who became the American dream if I can say that. And soon as they did, they forgot about those who were still caught in the American nightmare. Won’t be seen driving through those neighborhoods, won’t vote for legislation that will improve those neighborhoods, won’t give back, won’t help out, won’t volunteer, won’t get involved. “We got ours, you go get yours. It’s on you, not me.” No mercy. No understanding. No giving back. No helping out. No paying it back. No nothing. The absence of mercy has made this world a cold, cruel place to live.

A few years ago, well, maybe more like ten years ago or so, my wife and I were having one of our marital spats as all couples do. I was mad about her doing this, she was mad about me doing that, so forth and so on. Look at all the jaws dropping. That’s right, we got our issues, too. Just because I’m the preacher and just because she’s the preacher’s wife don’t mean we don’t have our issues just like everyone else. And I’ll never forget this one time because of its truth and its ability to guide my actions from here on out. She said to me in a rather poignant moment, she said, “You don’t treat me kindly anymore.” And it was true. It stung me, but it was true. I remember saying something back in retaliation that was an effort to be just as hurtful, but no where near as truthful. In the midst of that heated exchange, I got a phone call from a church member, (y’all got some great timing) and I answered in a nice sweet voice, “Hello, this is Reverend Flores.” I was a whole lot nicer to that person on the phone than I was to the person I had vowed to love honor and cherish. And the whole episode made me think of how I treat my spouse, how I get on her case for every little thing I think she does wrong, how I hold her accountable for this that or the other. And how lacking in mercy my person had become, at least toward her. Here I am getting on her case for something around the house, when I ain’t perfect. I mess up, too. I get irritable, too. I have my bad days, too. So next time she comes home tired and cranky, I decided to cut her some slack, make her dinner, treat her nice. If she forgets something, cut her some slack. If she leaves a coffee cup or two around the house, cut her some slack. Have some mercy. Like I never left an ice tea glass out in my lifetime. I went home to California one time to visit my mom, and I went into the house and got myself a glass of mom’s famous ice tea. Drank that thing down, watched some television, it’s a nice quiet place now that all the family is up and out, and then went on about my business. When I got back, mom and I were talking in the living room, and she asked me how my day was, had I visited the old hang outs, in n out burgers, tommy’s, all my favorites, and then she asked me if I’d had a glass of ice tea yet. And I said, oh yeah, had one this afternoon. And she said, “So it was YOU all these years leaving that ice tea glass out!” Decades of frustration came pouring out, eesh!

Beloved, how merciful are we? How willing are we to cut someone we love some slack? How thoughtful are we of what they might have been going through, how they may have had it tough that day, how they may have been up to here with troubles and heartaches, and they just need us to cut them some slack? Show some mercy. I’m wondering if we reclaimed the virtue of mercy in our lives, the ability to say, “it’s okay, it’s all right,” instead of, “it’s your fault, you’re to blame, you messed up, why’d you do that?” I wonder how our marriages would be with just a steady, daily doze of mercy. The absence of mercy has made not only our world a cold cruel place to live, but it makes our homes a cold cruel place to live. It makes our work environment a cold, cruel place to live. It makes our friendships a cold cruel place to live. It makes our churches, where the love of Jesus Christ is supposed to be shared, where we are supposed to be invited into a loving relationship with God and with others, but the absence of mercy can turn even the church into a cold, cruel place to live. “But the bylaws say this. We’ve never done that. We’ve never done it that way before.” What would our families look like if we returned mercy into the home? What would our relationships look like with the addition of the mercy of the Lord? What would our churches look like? What would our nation look like if we reclaimed some mercy and displayed some compassion and demonstrated some empathy? I wonder if we’d have problems paying for health care for everyone if we had a little mercy. I wonder if we’d be at war with folks half way across the globe if we had a little mercy. I wonder if we’d be executing folks, building more jails than schools, bailing out the 2% of the population who control 90% of the wealth. I wonder if our divorce rate would be as high, if our divorce cases would be as venomous, if our domestic violence rate would be as high, if our child abuse rate would be as horrific if we just had more mercy, more empathy, more understanding, if we just cut folks some slack, “Ok, it’s all right. I know we all make mistakes. I know we all have our bad days. I know we all blow it sometimes.”

Well, now, why don’t we? I’m looking at this text and how this man wouldn’t cut his slave some slack for the minimal amount he owed. And I’m wondering, “why not? Why don’t we cut folks some slack? Why don’t we show more mercy?’

Well, one reason is that we forget that we make the same mistakes. This man owed more than ten times as much as his own debtor. We forget that we’ve made our share of wrong choices, that we’ve been forgiven a few times in our lives, that someone helped us out back in the day. We think, sometimes, we think that we did it all on our own, that we got to where we are on our own, that we didn’t need any help, didn’t need any mercy, didn’t need federal loans to get through school, didn’t need an affirmative action policy to ensure that we weren’t discriminated against. Oh I hope I’m not stepping on too many toes today, but sometimes we forget that it used to be us on the street corner. We used to be in the hood. We used to be in the barrio. And the thing is, but for the grace of God, that would still be us in the hood. But for the grace of God, we’d be the ones in trouble, we’d be the ones without a job, we’d be the ones without health care coverage. But for the grace and mercy of God, that would be us!

The other thing, not only because we forget the mercy shown us every day, but the other thing is that we don’t plan to need mercy ourselves in the future. “If you do not forgive,” says the Lord, “neither will your heavenly father forgive you.” “By what measure you give it shall be given back to you.” Some people call it karma, but I call it Jesus. One of these old days, I’m going to see Jesus face to face, the man who forgave me, the man who looked beyond my faults and saw my need, the man who didn’t have to come down from heaven, didn’t have to come out of his throne at the right hand of God, the man who came in the form of a man for me, who was born to a peasant family for me, falsely accused for me, beaten for me, whipped for me, wrongly convicted for me, crucified for me! He forgave me. He did all that for me! And one day I’m going to see him face to face, and have the nerve to live a life without mercy, holding grudges, forgiving no one, being a jerk to people, acting holier than thou? I’m still going to need his mercy, going to need his grace, going to need his goodness!

I was going to Dalessandro’s the other day ordering some cheesesteaks for the family. Okay, for me too. And so as I was driving in, I called in my order with my cell phone. Yes, they’re on my speed dial. So I get there, and the lady at the counter tells me how much the steaks cost, and I reach into my pocket to pull out my money at this cash only establishment. And lo and behold, while I know I took out cash the day prior, apparently when I put my cash in my pocket that morning, SOMEBODY had taken some money from my stash that I keep on the dresser drawer. I’m not blaming Debbie, I’m just sayin’… Anyway, I’m at Dalessandro’s and I’m $1.25 short. And the lady says, “You called in your order, and we made the steaks; you owe us. You have to pay.” And I’m lookin’ behind her at the grill with all that meat cooking, thinking, that will clog 2 or 3 arteries right there! It looked delicious. That was the good life. But she said to me, “you can’t have the food until you pay what you owe.” And I couldn’t pay what I owed because SOMEBODY had taken a few bucks for themselves. Just sayin’… But then the owner of Dalessandro’s comes up behind the lady at the counter and she says, “It’s okay, I know him. Rev. Flores has been coming here for years. We go way back. We have a relationship. Let’s cut him some slack.”

Well, that’s how I expect it’s going to be, when I get to the gates of heaven some day. I imagine that standing at the gates of heaven, St. Peter will be there; Or maybe it will be Genester Nix Miller. And Genester is going to say, “you can’t come in here. Through these gates is everlasting life. The streets are paved with gold. There’s no more dying here. No more crying here. No more cancer, no more diseases, just life, joy and peace forevermore. But you can’t come in here because you have a debt that you owe and it must be paid. You can’t come in here because it’s only for the righteous. You can’t come in here because you came up a little bit short of the mark. You owe, and you cannot pay.” But then I imagine that Jesus, the captain of my soul, the bright and morning sun, Jesus, the lily of the valley, Jesus my savior, he’s going to come up behind Genester and tap her on the shoulder. He’s going to say to her, “It’s okay. I know him. We have a relationship. We go way back, back to Calvary, back to Golgotha, back to when I took the penalty for his sins, back to when I saved him, changed him, rearranged him, redeemed him, restored him. It’s okay. I know him. I love him. Let’s cut him some slack. Enter thou into the joy of the Lord. Enter into everlasting life. Enter into the presence of your savior!”

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